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Hand drums help make family centre welcoming

Sue Lichtenberger, Betty-Ann Little Wolf, Colleen Beck, Trish Hoskin and Des Zoeteman stand beneath the new hand drums displayed at Fort Macleod Kids First Family Centre.

An object that is sacred to the Blackfoot people has a place of prominence at Fort Macleod Kids First Family Centre.
In a quiet ceremony on Thursday, five hand drums were placed on the wall of the entrance to the family centre.
“We want to make this a welcoming space,” Kids First director Trish Hoskin said.
The ceremony was connected to Orange Shirt Day, Sept. 30, which is observed to remember Canada’s residential school survivors.
Orange Shirt Day is also a time to reflect on the collective responsibility of Canadians to take steps toward reconciliation.
Hoskin said Kids First staff about a year ago started reading a 200-page document composed of the stories of people who survived residential school.
That project, which is part of an ongoing effort by Kids First staff to become culturally aware, brought new understanding to the staff members.
“That document really made us aware in our hearts,” Hoskin said. “It was hard. It was hard to read.”
The Kids first staff members were moved by the experiences related by residential school survivors, and strengthened their resolve to make the family centre a safe, welcoming space.
That led them to have five hand drums made to be displayed at the family centre.
One hand drum has the Blackfoot word “Oki,” and the English word “Welcome” inscribed on the front.
Two other drums pay tribute to the Kainai and Piikani First Nations, with their names inscribed.
The other two hand drums are marked for Parent Link Centre and Kids First Family Centre.
“We felt that the drums were important,” Hoskin said. “We also think they’re beautiful.”
Blackfoot elder Betty-Ann Little Wolf put the first hand drum in place.
Little Wolf, who said a prayer at the event, praised Kids First for choosing to display the hand drums.
“They are very sacred to us,” Little Wolf said.
Orange Shirt Day honours Phyllis Webstad, whose prized possession, an orange shirt gifted by her grandmother, was taken away on her first day of residential school.
In 2018, people wear orange to remember those whose cultures and kinships were systematically stolen.